What is the key to landing your next job, your next assignment or your next client? Other people decide they want to work with you.
How do you show up on other people’s radar? You could toil away in your office hoping that your hard work will get recognized, but that’s a gamble. The key to moving forward in your career is:
Hiring managers and prospects are striving to make good decisions, and nothing beats a recommendation from someone they trust.
Lou Adler, CEO and founder of The Adler Group and author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, recently surveyed 1,000 recruiters and hiring managers. His findings tell the story:
When it comes to hiring, we treat strangers far differently than we do acquaintances or people who have been referred to us from a trusted source. We spend more time getting to know people who have been referred and what they’re capable of doing. Discussions with strangers are narrow and one-way.
As a career coach I often hear three excuses for not actively networking:
- “I can’t network because I’m too much of an introvert.” Me, too. Full disclosure: networking is very difficult for me, so I understand. Don’t let that stop you. Build and maintain relationships in a way that’s natural and authentic for you. Don’t compare yourself or try to emulate your gregarious, extrovert friends.
- “I’m too busy.” Find ways to work smarter, not harder. The less time you have, the more strategic you need to be with your networking.
- “I’m established and have reached a senior level, so I don’t need to network.” Well, enjoy the view of other people’s backsides as they pass you by.
If you aren’t currently an active networker, it’s not too late to start. This is the age of collaboration and connection. Here are some steps to get you started or to take your networking to the next level:
- You don’t have to build a network of 1,000 people, and networking doesn’t have to be smarmy. The key to effective networking is to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. Networking is not about how the relationships can benefit you – that’s smarmy.
- One of the easiest ways to start is to invite a colleague to coffee who you feel a connection with or who works in a different part of your company that you’d like to learn more about and ask them questions.
- Be active on Linked In, which has evolved beyond a site just for job seekers. Create a profile and build your contacts. Don’t just focus within your company. Many of my senior-level clients have Linked In contact lists made up entirely of junior people within their company who sent them connection requests. If this is you, establish contacts outside of your company by sending connection invitations to former colleagues, people you met at conferences, fellow association members and people you’ve met while volunteering.
- Be authentic and true to your own style. Find groups and activities that you’re interested in where you’ll have something meaningful in common with the other people. Introvert hint: it’s easier to talk to people when you have something in common. Think beyond traditional structured networking events; for example, Toastmasters clubs or volunteer organizations. Connections made outside of your professional arena can lead to new opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise run across.
- Don’t let your network sit idle. Identify your top tier of contacts and actively maintain those relationships. Just like any relationship, it will flourish if you invest time in it. Regularly send an email saying you’d love to hear what they’re up to these days, or if they’re local, meet up for coffee or lunch.
My clients have had so many huge successes from networking including finding new jobs, getting an ‘in’ at their dream company, growing their consulting businesses, and making a new friend. It truly can be the key to your success.
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Pam Norton, Career Coach and founder of TransitionSpark Coaching, helps individuals and teams get more success and fulfillment from their careers by identifying and leveraging their strengths.